An arrest warrant gives the police the legal power to arrest an individual. This doesn’t mean
that the police require a warrant to conduct an arrest. Section 495 of the criminal code grants
the police the power to arrest someone when:
- they have reasonable grounds to believe the person has committed or is about to
commit an indictable offence;
- they are committing a criminal offence;
- or when they have reasonable grounds to believe that there is a warrant for that
Although it isn’t necessary for the police to serve an arrest warrant on a suspect, people will
often ask what an arrest warrant looks like. It must include:
- either the name of the suspect or provide their description;
- the offence they’re charged with;
- and an order that the person be arrested and brought before the court.
An arrest warrant gives the power to any police officer who has knowledge of the warrant to
arrest the person named in the warrant. A common example of this is where a police officer
has detained someone in relation to another offence and, in the course of the investigation, she
or he discovers the existence of the warrant. If the officer is satisfied that the warrant applies
to the person under detention, they then have lawful authority to make an arrest.
Most warrants are only valid within the province where they have been obtained and many of
those warrants will have restrictions setting out a kilometer radius. It is also possible to obtain
an arrest warrant applies across Canada. Obtaining such a warrant is more onerous for the
police, who must apply for it in the Superior Court of Justice or the Court of Appeal.
If you become aware of a warrant for your arrest, contact our office to assist you. Please also
refer to my article, “What to do if the police are looking for you” published in NOW Magazine.
Example from Ontario, Canada, of what a arrest warrant looks like.